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The Screen Guide

From 1959 to 1963, a mysterious attacker terrorised Perth, committing random and extraordinarily violent crimes. The Perth police were determined to find the culprit. Deaf-mute DARRYL BEAMISH was arrested, questioned with no parents or lawyer, charged with murder and sentenced to death – but while he was in prison, the attacks began again. Many more violent crimes were committed, before a second young man – JOHN BUTTON - was arrested, cross-examined until he confessed, and also sent to prison. A few months later a babysitter was shot in the head. Police combed the crime scene and found a fingerprint. They fingerprinted 30,000 men, and interviewed 8,000 residents, yet despite every possible effort, there was no sign of the Night Caller – until an elderly couple, out for a stroll, spotted a rifle under a bush. The police set a trap, and arrested ERIC EDGAR COOKE when he appeared in the middle of the night to collect it. He confessed to 250 burglaries, and every murder, including those of Rosemary and Jillian – for which both John and Daryl were serving significant prison sentences. Despite Cooke’s confession, the police refused to believe that he had killed either of them. Eric was executed in ’64; Darryl served his full sentence, and John served five more years before he was released on parole. A number of Perth public figures took up their cases, with little success until ’92, when the Australian High Court ruled that a criminal charge should not proceed if the only evidence was a confession obtained by agents of the state. A retrospective appeal for John in 2001 was, at long last, a success. 39 years after Rosemary was murdered, both Darryl and John were pronounced innocent.

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Tom Meadmore
Tom Meadmore
Nick Taussig  Annabel Wigoder  Sam Griffin
Executive Producers
Brendan Dahill

Production Details

Production Completion
Production Company
Perpetual Entertainment

Screen Australia Supported

  • Development support